10 Best Danny Elfman Soundtracks

Danny Elfman owes much of his work as a composer to his long-time friend Tim Burton, having scored several of his movies. That's not to say Danny Elfman isn't a musician in his own right. Prior to creating the theme for The Simpsons and , he fronted the band Oingo Boingo. The following is a list of his best soundtracks from movies and TV.

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'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas / Disney
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas / Disney. Disney

What a delightful and underrated masterpiece of animation and music this is! In Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween, accidentally discovers Christmas Town. He falls in love with its traditions and tries to become the ghoulish version of Santa Claus. Not only does Danny Elfman provide fun, scary, and touching songs for this dark film, he also sings Jack's part. "What's This?" is an especially catchy and clever song. (1993)

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Batman 2-Disc Special Edition
Batman 2-Disc Special Edition. Pricegrabber.com

Many critics feel that 1989's Batman, directed by Tim Burton, was the first successful comic book movie after decades of misfires. The dark mood of the movie, for that matter the dark mood of Bruce Wayne, was underscored wonderfully by Elfman's music. His champion theme is particularly memorable.

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'Batman Returns'

Batman Returns
Batman Returns. Pricegrabber.com

Tim Burton's second movie about the Dark Knight, Batman Returns is one of my favorite films of all time for three reasons: 1) Michelle Pfeiffer was glorious as the dual-personality-challenged Catwoman; 2) It was dark, creepy and funny, and 3) Danny Elfman's music made use of the champion theme but added strings and screeches for suspense and overall eeriness.

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'Pee-wee's Big Adventure'

Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Pricegrabber.com

Pee-wee Herman was at the height of his popularity when Pee-wee's Big Adventure was released in 1985. Tim Burton's film is surreal and syrupy, but so delightful. Pee-wee's Big Adventure can be fully enjoyed by children and adults, thanks to Pee-wee's child-like, but clever, humor. Danny Elfman's silly and whimsical melodies add to the enchantment.

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'Big Fish'

Big Fish
Big Fish. Pricegrabber.com

2003's Big Fish wasn't a big box office draw but the mythical and familiar themes allowed Danny Elfman a chance to try his hand at a different tone. Plus, I give Elfman considerable credit for the sheer volume of music he had to write.

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Beetlejuice Soundtrack
Beetlejuice Soundtrack. Pricegrabber.com

Beetlejuice is an example of how perfect Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are as a team. Burton created a gothic, Dali-esque world and Elfman provided a musical backdrop, with zig-zagging piano melodies and plenty of bass horns. It was a match made in, well, not quite heaven. But some sort of afterlife, right?

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'Edward Scissorhands'

Edward Scissorhands Soundtrack
Edward Scissorhands Soundtrack. Pricegrabber.com

The entire soundtrack of Edward Scissorhands, released in 1990, is a wander through the moods and mind of Edward. The haunting, yet lyrical, music is full of childlike chimes, sad strings, and vocal "Ooo." If you're a fan of this tender, thoughtful film, you will most certainly enjoy the soundtrack.

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'Men in Black'

Men in Black Soundtrack
Men in Black Soundtrack. Pricegrabber.com

Directed by someone other than Tim Burton, namely Barry Sonnenfeld, Danny Elfman weaved his trademark urgency throughout the theme of Men in Black, with some typewriter action in the background. Though Danny Elfman had nothing to do with Will Smith's rap song, he certainly crafted some out-of-this-world music to go with the alien-infested Men in Black movie, as well as its sequels.

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'Alice in Wonderland'

Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack
Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack. Pricegrabber.com

2010's Alice in Wonderland needed to be whimsical yet dark, a mood that is Danny Elfman's forte. Though Alice traveled through a world full of mischievous characters and colorful landscapes, real danger awaited her around every corner. The soundtrack captured many character stories, using soft strings for the White Queen's themes to high-pitched choral singing in Alice's theme.

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'Proof of Life'

Proof of Life Soundtrack
Proof of Life Soundtrack. Pricegrabber.com

Proof of Life gave Danny Elfman a chance to break out of the dark a little and find some South American beats. He used a variety of instruments, like flutes and drums, to create an edgy, suspenseful soundtrack.